Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics awarded grant to support public interest technology

Jeff Behrends.

Harvard’s PIT-UN project will be led by Jeff Behrends. Melissa Blackall/Melissa Blackall Photography

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The Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics was awarded a Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN) Challenge grant to further support the critical new field of public interest technology.

The Center for Ethics was awarded funding to pursue the project, “Evaluating and Assessing Tech Ethics Education,” which will evaluate and assess public interest technology education and pedagogy in collaboration with partners at Stanford University and New Jersey Institute of Technology. They joined 24 other colleges and universities across the country who received funding to continue their pathfinding work in the creation of this new field. You can find the full list of 2020 grantees here.

The Public Interest Technology University Network is a partnership of colleges and universities convened by New America, the Ford Foundation, and the Hewlett Foundation. The network is dedicated to building the nascent field of public interest technology through curriculum development, faculty research opportunities, and experiential learning programs, in order to inspire a new generation of civic-minded technologists and policy leaders.

The work done at the Center for Ethics and partner institutions across the network is advancing the use of technology for public benefit. It is training the next generation of technologists to not only be innovative but also responsible stewards of the incredible potential of technology.

 “PIT educators lack tools to evaluate their pedagogy,” said Jeffrey Behrends, lecturer on philosophy and the Center for Ethics director of ethics and technology initiatives. “This award will yield first-of-their-kind evaluation tools that can be deployed across diverse institutions for the improvement of tech ethics pedagogy. This will help instructors better understand whether their approaches to tech ethics education are likely to advance their pedagogical goals, in part by illuminating how students perceive and respond to them.” Behrends will lead the project with co-PI, Danielle Allen, James Bryant Conant University Professor.

The Public Interest Technology University Network and challenge grants are funded through the support of the Ford Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, Mastercard Impact Fund, with support from the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, The Raikes Foundation, Schmidt Futures, and the Siegel Family Endowment.